In a world overflowing with information and complex ideas, using plain language becomes even more important. No matter what you write – an email, newsletter, blog, advertisement or business report – you have an audience. Using plain language shows that you know and respect them.
What is plain language?
In its simplest form, it’s advocating for your reader. Plain language presents information in a clear, brief and easy-to-understand way. It doesn’t use jargon (“insider” language), complicated terms or complex sentences. The goal of plain language is to write content that your readers can understand the first time they read it.
Why it matters
- Your audience feels seen: When we write to meet their specific needs, we’re advocating for them.
- Clarity and understanding: When you communicate using simple and straightforward terms, readers understand your message quickly and accurately.
- Wider audience reach: Not everyone has specialized knowledge or vocabulary related to a particular subject. Using plain language opens the door to a broader audience, creating understanding for people with diverse education levels and experiences.
- Time saving: In a fast-paced world, people appreciate information that they can quickly absorb. Complex language can be harder and take longer to understand. Plain language gets to the point, saving time for both you and your audience.
- Enhanced credibility: Clear communication reflects professionalism and expertise. When you use plain language, you show that you are being transparent with your audience. They recognize that, and it builds trust.
- Increased accessibility: Plain language makes your content more accessible to people with learning disabilities or those who are new to English.
- Improved decision-making: Using plain language empowers readers to make informed decisions. When people understand what you have written, they can weigh the pros and cons accurately and make choices aligned with their needs.
“I love words but I don’t like strange ones. You don’t understand them and they don’t understand you. Old words is like old friends, you know ‘em the minute you see ‘em.” – Will Rogers
Some people question the purpose of using plain language. They feel that it removes technical terms and simplifies information so much that it becomes inaccurate. Instead, plain language includes technical terms thoughtfully, offering clear explanations with their use. It presents information appropriately for the intended audience while keeping the necessary context. Plain language doesn’t compromise accuracy; its focus on clarity enhances precise communication. Despite its importance, plain language isn’t about being politically correct. It encourages inclusivity and accessibility for all readers. Clearing up these misconceptions highlights the value of plain language in effective communication.
The bottom line
In a world where effective communication is key to success, we can’t overlook the value of plain language. As a writer, advocating for your reader and striving for clarity and simplicity should always be a priority. Using plain language empowers your audience, fosters better relationships and creates a more inclusive and informed society.
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